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Audi: Sequential Signals Should Be Approved by U.S. Government

Sections: Car Safety, Installations

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LED Turn Signal Audi A8

Audi says it has tweaked the turn signals of its A8 by making the LEDs fire sequentially in a manner than increases their visibility and attention-getting ability, improving safety. And let’s be honest, it probably looks cooler, too. (Photo courtesy Audi)

Audi thinks the folks in charge of things like approving turn signals should — and will — approve the automaker’s new lighting technologies including sequential LED turn signals. Joke’s on them because our government is closed, but hey.

An article at Automotive News (subscription may be required to view full article) reported Audi is seeking  National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) approval of its sequential LED turn signals that we told you about earlier. In a nutshell, the signals illuminate by lighting up dozens of LEDs in sequence from the inner portion of the signal to the outer portion, so that the light appears to travel in the direction of the signaled turn. Audi head of Lighting Innovations Stephan Berlitz called it “intuitive” and “a safety advantage.” As the Automotive News piece explained, however, the signals’ light illumination runs afoul of NHTSA regulations:

The reason is a clause in Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 108 dictating that “the effective projected luminous lens area of each compartment or lamp shall be at least 22 square centimeters, provided the combined area is at least 50 square centimeters,” or 73/4 square inches.

The Ford Mustang — which had sequential turn signals in the 1960s and uses them today — satisfies the requirement by using three large, red taillights that go on in series. Because the first light in the sequence meets the size minimum, the other two don’t matter.

Those who pay attention to automotive styling will recall Audi pretty much started the whole LED accent lighting/daytime running lights trend in 2008 with its R8. Just about every vehicle we test now comes with LED lighting accents in the headlight area, including the recently tested Toyota Rav4, Toyota Prius V and C, and Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland.

The article said Audi had hoped the government would ultimately approve its Matrix Beam headlight system, as well. That system projects a high beam that dims automatically when it senses oncoming traffic. But according to the article, Toyota filed a formal request that NHTSA rewrite its rule on headlights, triggering a review process that “could take years” while competitors have time to develop their own versions of the Matrix Beam headlights.

Berlitz said, “We lost a lot of time. Now we are not able to go the fast way.”

The automaker reportedly hopes for much faster action on its turn signals. The article said Berlitz will meet next month with NHTSA officials to seek special dispensation for them.

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